If there was “the story” at the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show, it was the launch of Plasencia Cigars. The Plasencias have 152 years experience in the cigar business and truly are one of the iconic families in the industry’s history. Now, after many years being growers and producers in the cigar business, the Plasencias last year have launched their own brand. It’s not just a brand with their name on it. To bring this product to market, the Plasencias now have their own U.S. distribution company, Plasencia 1865, LLC. At the 2017 IPCPR, the Plasencias would be exhibitors for the first time – and they had a full-blown media event for the official launch of their brand.
“To see our name over here (at the booth). To see all the cigars with the Plasencia name, it gave me goosebumps when I saw it Monday (as the Trade Show was being set up),” commented Nestor Andrés Plasencia, the CEO of Plasencia Cigars and the son of the legendary Nestor Plasencia.
According to the Plasencia family, they make 40 million cigars a year and grow 5 million pounds of tobacco a year. They also have said that 80% percent of the cigars at this year’s trade show uses a Plasencia grown leaf in their product. This is a company that also employs 6,000 people. It’s hard to dispute the numbers as the Plasencias are truly giants in the cigar industry.
The quality is there as well. The 2016 Cigar Coop Cigar of the Year, the Crux du Connoisseur No. 2 happens to be produced out of Plasencia’s Nicaraguan factory. Casa Magna, a brand that the Plasencias teamed up with the Quesadas to make, was Cigar Aficionado’s 2008 Cigar of the Year.
But there was one thing missing. While the Plasencias have made cigars for others, and even have put their name on a cigar, they never distributed their own cigars direct to consumers – until last year when Plasencia 1865, LLC was formed.
“We are the Fifth Generation. This is a part of our family history that we have to put our name out to the final consumer,” commented Nestor Andrés.
This wasn’t a decision made overnight. The family started putting special tobacco aside a decade ago waiting for the right time to use it. Nestor Andrés even told me that it took a little convincing to get his father, Nestor Plasencia Sr. on board.
There was one problem – the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Deeming Regulations have taken innovation and creativity to a stand-still. However, that did not stop the Plasencias – and especially Nestor Sr.
“I got of Cuba once. I’ve been out of Nicaragua once. So FDA is nothing compared to that,” is what Nestor Sr. told Nestor Andrés. The Plasencia family had their origins in Cuba. Following the Cuban Revolution, the family fled and started anew in Nicaragua. However, when the Nicaraguan revolution took place, the Plasencias went to Honduras. During the 1980s, the family really struggled in the growing business because of a huge blue mold outbreak.
Nestor Andrés noted that since the family has been in the business a long time, they have plenty of predicate blends to work with.
The Media Event
While most companies don’t have the resources to do a media launch like the Plasencias, it’s no secret that I feel the cigar industry as a whole is very weak at media relations. The media event put on by the Plasencias should be a blueprint for the cigar industry.
The Plasencias contracted with Republica.net – an advertising and PR firm run by Jorge Plasencia, who is a cousin of Nestor Andrés. They have been involved with the launch of Plasencia Cigars and helped organize the media event.
The General Session
The event included remarks to the media by Nestor Andrés as well as a Q & A session. We covered it here:
Following the General Session for the Media, we were able to get a one-on-one interview with Nestor Andrés. The audio is below.
While this was the official launch of Plasencia Cigars, the company went to market with several releases last year.
Last year, Plasencia introduced the Alma Fuerte. This is the first of what is intended to be a five-part series of cigars. It’s an ultra-premium line – priced over $20.00 each. It features some of the best tobaccos set aside ten years ago by the Plasencias.
The name translates to “Strong Soul” – something the Plasencias identify with. It’s a box-pressed Nicaraguan puro line consisting primarily of Criollo ’98. The tobaccos are from Plasencia farms in the four main growing regions of Nicaragua: Condega, Estelí, Jalapa, and Ometepe.
Alma de Campo
Alma de Campo is the second installment of the Alma Series and was the showcase release by Plasencia at this year’s trade show. Alma de Campo translates to “Soul of the Soil” (as growers the Plasencias are quite proud of this). This is a rounded release described as medium-bodied. It is also a Criollo ’98-dominant Nicaraguan puro. It is available in five sizes. This line carries a price point between $15.00 and $20.00.
Cosecha 146 is a line that Plasencia Cigars was taking orders for at the 2017 IPCPR. There are plans for a formal launch later this year.
Cosecha means “harvest” and Cosecha 146 release pays homage to the 146th harvest of the Plasencias (2011) and it uses tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua from that crop.
Plasencia Reserva Original
The Plasencias are well-known for their 100% organic cigar – the Reserva Organica. Now an organic cigar is also a part of Plasencia Cigars’ portfolio. This one is called Plasencia Reserva Original.
The launch of Plasencia Cigars is something historic and exciting to happen in the cigar industry. I also find the timing quite strategic. As the cigar industry enters a period of regulation, it is bound to lead to consolidation. This could lead to several companies for which Plasencia makes cigars and/or grows tobacco to go out of business. What better way to pick up the slack than to introduce your own products to replace it.
It isn’t every day a cigar company with over a century in the business launches its first brands. This is story that launches a new chapter for the Plasencias – and it’s only the beginning. If you missed seeing the Plasencia Cigars exhibit at IPCPR, you missed a lot.
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted.